Friday, March 5, 2010

Handle This

We're slowly but surely updating the kitchen; it's got new countertops and new appliances. I wanted the next project to be quick and easy, so I decided it was time to change out the 1980s-vintage polished brass cabinet and drawer pulls for new ones.

Our house has a big kitchen. The cooking area has a corner sink, with cabinets (both wall mounted and base) and drawers extending out on both sides. There's an island separating the cooking and eating areas, and a desk made out of the same style of cabinetry with wall-mounted units above it. I knew we'd need quite a few new handles, but when I started counting I realized there were more than 50!

The first step in the project was to go to the hardware store and pick out a selection of potential replacements. I came home with four to try in a variety of styles and finishes. I took off four old handles and installed the new ones. After a couple of days of looking at them in natural (morning and afternoon) and artificial light,we picked a winner.

Decision made, I went back to the hardware store to make my big purchase. However, the overflowing bin of handles that was there earlier was now empty. Someone had been there before me and cleaned it out! A friendly hardware associate asked if he could help. I showed him what I was looking for. He checked his computer, which said there were a several dozen in the store. But he couldn't find them. They weren't on the overstock shelf or in the storeroom. He finally suggested trying other branches of the store.

The next day I did just that and purchased all they had--25 handles. Several days later I went to another branch, which had two, and several days after that I found five at a third location. At this rate I would be buying the complete inventory for the entire county! However, I was able to acquire the rest at the fourth stop I made.

Installing the new handles was easy, but time consuming. I soon came up with the Two Bowl method, an assembly-line system. Before I started, I opened each package, screwed the screws into the handle holes, and dropped them into a plastic bowl. The second plastic bowl was for the old handles after I took them off. Screwdriver in hand, I'd remove an old handle, put the old screws into it's holes for storage and drop it into the bowl, grab a new handle and take the screws off, put the screw through the holes in the cabinet, stick the new handle on the tips of the screws, then tighten everything up. Unless I had an old screw that didn't want to come loose, I could complete each cabinet in a couple of minutes. The drawers took a bit longer because I had to move things out of the way to get to the screws.

The activity turned into a competition with myself. Could I get five handles done before I had to leave for work? How quickly could I finish all the drawers on the desk? It was satisfying to see the pile of old handles get larger as the pile of new ones shrunk. Finally I was done.

The new handles are similar in style to the old ones, so the difference is subtle. But it's definitely there. Three projects down, dozens more to go....

1 comment:

  1. The first thing I did when I moved into our new house was change out the kitchen cabinet handles. Doesn't it make a big difference?!